Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The rise and rise of Turkish Islamist antisemitism

Thirty-five years ago, the current Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayip Erdogan (pictured), wrote and directed an antisemitic play. Then as now, in the wake of the anti-Jewish sentiment whipped up by the flotilla incident, the dhimmi Turkish Jewish community failed to react. Writing in Right-side News, Andrew G Bostom traces the creeping Islamism of Turkey's government and the inexorable rise of the antisemitic discourse at the heart of of the Turkish Islamist movement founded by Erdogan's mentor, former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan.

Erbakan's recent statements are vivid evidence of the fulminant Antisemitism his popular movement has imbued, including amongst Turkey's current ruling elites, who never criticize such pronouncements by their mentor. Indeed current Prime Minister Erdogan amplifies this bigoted, Antisemitic discourse which resonates among the masses, illustrating graphically the same phenomenon described so presciently 37 years ago by Bat Ye'or about her native Egypt: sequentially grafting on to a learned foundation of Antisemitic motifs from Islam's core texts, modern secular Western European elements, especially those associated with Nazism.

Rifat Bali, a Turkish historian, and Jew, made a passionate indictment of Turkey's tacit acceptance of Antisemitism, published soon after the November 15, 2003 Istanbul synagogue bombings. The singularly courageous Bali, decried first and foremost, Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan's and his AKP government's abject failure to publicly denounce both the Antisemitic discourse of the fundamentalist Islamic movement from which Erdogan emerged, and which he claimed later to have abandoned, and those (like Erdogan's mentor Necmettin Erbakan, for example) insistent on perpetuating such public discourse. With bitter disbelief, Bali further noted the near unanimously shared, albeit counterfactual view, of a respected Turkish columnist, published (in Milliyet November 17, 2003) within two days of the bombings, who maintained that, "...there has never been Antisemitism in Turkey in its racist or religious sense."

The opportunity for honest discussion was squandered by every domain of Turkish society, not only politicians, but also media and intellectual elites. Moreover, a profoundly depressing example of collective Jewish dhimmitude was on ignominious display: the Chief Rabbi, as well as the secular leaders in his entourage representing the voice of Turkey's Jewish community, even the Israeli government, as Bali observed,

...all seemed determined to ignore...[rather than] to confront face to face the Antisemitism which is incorporated in the political Islamic movement...[i.e., which currently governs Turkey].Bali further admonished the Erdogan regime to live up to its professed support of equality for Jews within Turkish society: Turkey's Jews are not dhimmis in need of the tolerance and the protection of the Muslim majority. They are citizens of the Republic of Turkey.[emphasis added]

Perhaps ceasing this disgraceful and delusional behavior starts by putting an end to the hagiography of Jewish life under Ottoman rule - including Jews living within Istanbul's ghettoes, and Ottoman Palestine - and using precise terms that describe this half-millennium of history, appropriately and accurately: jihad, surgun (forced population transfer), and chronic dhimmitude. There was nothing "humanitarian" whatsoever in the Ottomans accepting a relatively modest number of Jewish refugees from the Inquisition - far greater numbers were accepted in other parts of Europe itself. Indeed the vacuum created for these skilled Jewish refugees whom the Ottomans re-settled in their burgeoning Empire was created by the Ottoman jihad conquest of Byzantine and Venetian territories and their Jewish populations, i.e., Jews who were subjected to the Ottoman jihad, including massacre, pillage, enslavement, forced conversion, and surgun deportation.

Also one cannot get lost in comforting happy talk and ignore the chronic, grinding Antisemitism, and vestiges of dhimmitude to which the Jews in Turkey have been subjected throughout the history of modern Republican Turkey-including the large, government organized Thracian pogroms of 1934, and the blatantly discriminatory, deliberately pauperizing varlik vergisi taxation scheme and subsequent deportations of Jewish business leaders to "Turkish Siberia," during World War II (WWII). This ongoing discrimination contributed to the rapid exodus of 40% of Turkey's Jews after WWII to Israel within 2 years of its creation, followed by the steady, continuous attrition of the Turkish Jewish population - their departure accelerating again after the notorious Istanbul pogrom against Greeks, Armenians, and Jews in 1955-so that only 17,000 (or fewer) of Turkey's 77, 000 post-WWII Jews remain.

Joseph Hacker's seminal research highlights the 1523 book of the Talmudist Eliyah Kapsali (Seder Eliyah Zuta, composed in Crete), and its embellishment by the 17th century Egyptian chronicler Rabbi Yosef Sambari (in Sambari's Divrei Yosef)-rather crudely redacted narratives which became the version accepted by modern historiography of the history of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire:

...the sürgün [forced population transfer] phenomenon and all its attendant [discriminatory] features features was not considered at all. If the sürgün was mentioned at all in the writings of the [Jewish] scholars of the Empire, it was held to be an insignificant, indecisive episode in the history of the Jews. The relations between Jews and Ottomans were thus felt to be both idyllic and monotonous from their very inception, no distinction being made either between kinds of Jewish populations or between one period and another throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Kapsali conceals all criticism and tries to cover up and obliterate inconvenient facts...This is also apparently the reason for his utterly ignoring the Romaniot [Byzantine] Jews and their fate at the time of the conquest of Constantinople, and of the suffering of the others exiled there after the conquest.

The 16th century dhimmi Jewish leadership's deliberate misrepresentation of the actual plight of Ottoman Jewry was described by Hacker with obvious contempt. Inexcusably, this pathological behavior persists five centuries later among contemporary Jewish leadership elites, who appear incapable of identifying, let alone adequately defending against, the resurgence of jihadist Islam in Turkey. Gifted writer Diana West's evocative language depicts the ultimate outcome if this self-destructive dhimmitude is not reversed: "in denial there is defeat."

Tragically, the contemporary leadership of the Turkish Jewish community, Israel, and American Jewish advocacy groups never mustered the intellectual courage to overcome their own craven denial. Collectively galvanized, several years ago, they might have confronted Erdogan's AKP government over the ugly living legacy of anti-dhimmi and Antisemitic discrimination against Turkey's Jews, and demanded immediate efforts at amelioration of their plight: marginalization and legal punishment of Turkish politicians and public intellectuals whose discourse incites Jew-hatred, and potentially, anti-Jewish violence; the implementation of concrete reforms, ensuring in practice equal rights, opportunities, and public safety for Jews. And they should have demanded, further, that if all these measures were not implemented rapidly, with tangible evidence of success, Turkey's Jews would be allowed unfettered, mass emigration without any economic penalties.

Such bold, forthright action - joint "anti-dhimmitude" - could have put an end to the ongoing phenomenon of a vestigial de facto dhimmi Jewish community of Turkey (via its dhimmi leadership) holding Israel, and American Jews hostage to the whims of an oppressive Turkish government, in the throes of a transformative fundamentalist Islamic revival. But nothing of the sort was ever done.

Thus a Turkish Jew, Albert Pinto-illustrating modern Jewish dhimmitude, denial, and raw "fear for their lives" in Turkey as Muslims "take to the street in growing numbers against Israel"-reportedly stated, referring to the slain IHH jihadists aboard the Mavi Maramara,

What we are hearing in the media is not pleasant. Why did they kill those people? They were nice people who simply wished to help.

More ominously, resurgent jihadism in Turkey manifest by the ruling AKP party, and its popular leader Erdogan, now brazenly espouses Antisemitic hatred, and focuses this animus on the Jewish State of Israel.

Read article in full

American Thinker article

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